Worker Rights Centers for the Greater Protection of Labor Rights in Colombia

Project Duration:
December 2016
September 2023
Funding and Year:

This project supports the government of Colombia in meeting its commitments to the U.S. under the Action Plan associated with the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement.

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The Problem

The U.S. – Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) obligates the Government of Colombia to effectively enforce its labor laws, reaffirm its obligation as a member of the International Labor Organization (ILO), and adopt and maintain in statutes, regulations, and practices, the rights as stated in the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-Up (1998). In the lead up to ratification of the TPA, on April 7, 2011, the Governments of the United States and Colombia reached agreement on an ambitious and comprehensive Colombian Action Plan Related to Labor Rights (Action Plan). Under the Action Plan the Government of Colombia committed to a series of concrete measures to protect the rights of workers. 

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Our Strategy

The targets of this project are workers and workers’ organizations. The Escuela Nacional Sindical (ENS) implements this project to assist workers and other stakeholders in:

  1. Understanding the scope and applicability of relevant laws and labor standards;
  2. Understanding the administrative and judicial steps and processes required to initiate inspections, investigations, and seek legal remedies;
  3. Ensuring that the Ministry of Labor, the Prosecutor General’s Office, and other relevant authorities receive well-supported and well-articulated claims; and
  4. Strengthening the capacity of local organizations to assist workers. The Workers’ Rights Centers provide counseling, legal consultation, and training to workers and workers’ organizations in person, online, and via telephone.
  5. Offering research, training, and counselling to help workers understand labor standards and identify labor violations at the workplace as well as design plans to improve occupational health and overcome gender, racial, and ethnic discrimination at work.
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After the implementation of the first phase of this project, an independent evaluation found that:

  1. Workers are more knowledgeable about their labor rights;
  2. Workers have a better understanding of how to file well-documented legal claims; and
  3. Workers are more likely to take legal action after the Workers’ Rights Centers helped them.
Grantee: Escuela Nacional Sindical (ENS)
Contact Information:
(202) 693-4900
Office of Trade and Labor Affairs (OTLA)